On Saturday, Aug. 29, Tioga Arts Council (TAC) member Michael Husted and Van Horn Jewelers officially recognized Owego Free Academy (OFA) student Alice Dang as the winner of the first OFA Jewelry Design Challenge. In Van Horn Jewelers, Husted, Skip Hornick, the Dang family, and friends gathered around to celebrate.
Last school year, Owego Free Academy (OFA) art teacher Susan Camin and master-bench jeweler Michael Husted pitched 18 students to design a piece of jewelry. After sorting through 325 sketches, Husted couldn’t get his mind off of one design, which showed two angel wings encompassing a large baby pink stone.
On Saturday, Alice Dang, the 17-year-old now senior, wore her winning design with pride at Van Horn Jewelers, where the piece is currently on sale.
Husted gifted the first version of the design to Dang. This pendant is made in the exact image of the original sketch with sterling silver, cubic zirconia and a cabochon coral in the middle. The pendant that is on sale is made of 14-carat yellow gold set with diamonds surrounding the cabochon coral.
“The purpose of all this was to give students an opportunity to work in a medium they’ve maybe never considered before,” Husted said.
Because OFA students were distance learning last school year, Husted made a short video about jewelry design and production to give the students a foundation of where to find inspiration and what makes a good piece of jewelry.
He himself graduated from OFA and during his time he never experienced jewelry design until college. That class led him into the field he’s been in for over 30 years.
Dang wishes to pursue design after high school. She is particularly interested in fashion design. She said she enjoys finding art in her everyday life, whether it is in nature or in the items of clothing she is mixing and matching.
Husted appreciated the simplicity and beauty of Dang’s sketch. While recreating Dang’s design in his computer program, he realized that the design was not perfectly symmetrical. For efficiency’s sake, after drawing one of the wings, he copied, flipped and pasted it on the other side to save time. However, it looked strange in his program.
“It didn’t have the same line of beauty that her hand-drawn piece did,” he said.
He retraced the other side based on Dang’s original sketch and was pleased to realize that perfection in symmetry isn’t everything when it comes to jewelry design.
Dang said designing for this contest was intimidating. The friendly competition with her other talented classmates, and knowing that his design is for the “real world,” required more time and dedication than her other projects demand. She said she initially didn’t feel confident in the design, however now recognizes it is “simple but very beautiful at the same time.”
The pendant is currently on display and available for purchase at Van Horn Jewelers, located on Lake Street in Owego.